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Comment author: Psychohistorian 05 April 2009 06:18:06PM *  7 points [-]

He didn't give you his word that you are wrong. He stated that your claim was not rigorous and that crucial parts of it required supporting evidence that you failed to provide.

He also claimed that you do not understand evolutionary psychology. (Edit) You have provided no evidence to dispute this claim. Of course you are probably not making an evpsych argument, so this comment is probably not necessary, but if it's wrong and you are, you might consider rebutting it.

Rational responses to this would include providing evidence in support of your claim or explaining how a this predisposition might form. "Maybe we just don't like overdogs" explains exactly nothing, except that we don't like overdogs, which has already been stated.

Conversations are important, but making statements with no evidenciary claim and, well, no claim that adds meaning, are not.

Comment author: nescius 05 April 2009 11:48:24PM *  3 points [-]

"Maybe we just don't like overdogs" explains exactly nothing, except that we don't like overdogs...

One could interpret the phrase to suggest that focus in this forum may be being misleadingly directed towards the idea of support of underdogs rather than opposition of overdogs (Vandello's "top dog"s), to which underdog support may be secondary. The phenomena are not inversions of each other. At least, I haven't taken dislike of overdogs as being granted by the assertions of tendency for support of underdogs.

Perspective changes are often useful. This interpretable alternate notion may lead somewhere, while conflict resulting from an ungenerous (if accurate) understanding may not always be as fruitful as this particular incident appears to (heartwarmingly) be.

The linked paper says:

Although not directly examining underdog support, research on attitudes toward high achievers (what Feather, 1991, has labeled tall poppies) is also relevant. For instance, high achievers often elicit envy and resentment from others, particularly when the achievement is seen as undeserved ... and people often experience pleasure in seeing the mighty fall...

[edit: Note further discussion of "schadenfreude" on page 1614.]

My opinion of overdog spite, without having conducted or surveyed studies: I think it exists and has a not insubstantial effect on underdog support, but my guess is that the primary factor or factors in underdog support are not dependent on it. Thanks anyway, Marshall, for the idea, whether you intended it. I'll keep it nearby as I consider underdog support.

Comment author: AlexU 05 April 2009 12:54:45AM *  3 points [-]

In a confrontation between two parties, it's more likely that the stronger one will pose the greater threat to you. By supporting the underdog and hoping for a fluke victory, you're increasing your own survival odds. It seems we're probably evolved to seek parity -- where we then have the best chance of dominating -- instead of seeking dominant leaders and siding with them, which is a far more complex and less certain process.

Am I missing something? Also, it would be interesting to see whether females and males have the same reactions toward the overdog.

Comment author: nescius 05 April 2009 10:09:56PM 0 points [-]

I also wonder about possible sex differences. Some information is available:

The Appeal Of The Underdog:

There was no significant effect, t(69) = 1.30, p = .19, though caution is warranted because of imbalanced samples. In fact, across all four studies reported in this article, there were no sex differences on the main dependent variables (all ps > .19).

Comment author: abigailgem 01 April 2009 01:36:26PM *  4 points [-]

Try to wean yourself off the need for warm fuzzies instead.

EDIT: No, don't try to wean yourself off the warm fuzzies, but get the warm fuzzies from friends and family, not from people in distress in need of charity. Feel good about yourself because you are achieving your goals, including altruistic ones. (end of edit)

Carl Rogers, founder of person centred counselling, theorised that there is an "organismic self", with all the attributes and abilities of the human organism within its own skin, and a "self-concept" built up from what the individual saw it was desirable to be. The conscious part of the human being builds up a map of how that human being's unconscious motivations and desires are. Part of this map is mere falsehood, lies told to make the person feel better about himself, because he has introjected the idea that this is the way he ought to be. Disparity between the map and the territory causes cognitive dissonance, and may make the need for warm fuzzies: cognitive dissonance is painful, pretending to be your own self-concept gives a warm fuzzy.

If you can make your self-concept, your map of yourself, match your organismic self, the actual territory which you may be strongly motivated to deny, then your need for warm fuzzies may reduce.

You will be more efficient if instead of buying warm fuzzies, you spend energy on utilons or signaling.

I am strongly motivated to altruism. I have decided to stop asking whether this is selfish or not. Yes, it is selfish, it fulfils My goals. No, it is not selfish, it fulfils the goals of others too. Is it "good" or "bad"? Don't know that either. I have decided that does not matter. It is what I want, perhaps merely for signalling purposes.

Comment author: nescius 02 April 2009 06:46:37AM *  2 points [-]

Maybe one does not "overcome" bias in the sense of vanquishing, but in the sense of getting the better of? Roll with your ape?

Makes me wonder how hard-wired our various tendencies to see (or cling to) certain obscuring maps are, and how much we can obliterate, suppress, or Aikido flip them. Without much thought I feel that I'm not averse to, um, shocking my monkey if need be, to get myself closer to rational behavior. But, yeah, up to that extremity there's doubtlessly a humongous lot of workable "therapies" or techniques to encourage rational inclination.

I will repeatedly bring up the concept of self-valuation because I believe it's critically involved in a lot of irrationality. The pain of the cognitive dissonance caused by the "ought to be" self map differing from actuality is the pain of devaluation. Find a way for folks not to experience that aversive grief and you'll have removed a great barrier to clearer thinking. I think it's possible.

In response to Helpless Individuals
Comment author: CannibalSmith 30 March 2009 01:05:41PM *  1 point [-]

But by and large, the answer to the question "How do large institutions survive?" is "They don't!"

What???

Comment author: nescius 31 March 2009 04:22:30AM 2 points [-]

I also found this confusing. The interpretation that I came up with which made sense was that "They don't!" is meant to mean "mu" (being an interjection to say that the premise of the question is false) and that "large institutions" is a stylistically unqualified reference to public-benefit institutions directly supported by individuals. The false premise is that large (individually-supported, public-benefit) institutions exist, from which we could ask how.

The double whammy was momentarily confounding and a bit fun, but resulted in some forum heat loss and annoyance.

In response to Church vs. Taskforce
Comment author: nescius 30 March 2009 08:12:23AM 2 points [-]

Folks get a variety of satisfactions/comforts from church membership. Community does seem like a big one, but nebulous.

I think one of the greater draws of church community is a sense of being valued. For the self-assured this motivator might be hard to grasp. (Conversely, those of low self-esteem might overestimate its importance.) Anyway, I recommend research into the psychological problems correlating with religiosity. I haven't seen such studies in particular, but I've seen studies of psychological problems associated with conservatism and "Right-Wing Authoritarianism", which are mindsets correlated with religiosity. Fear of death and difficulty coping with chaos are two prominent traits.

Not to say that the urges towards church community are all pathologies. Just that certain "holes" might be keener felt when neuroses impinge. The terms "hole" and "gap" feel loaded. It might be easy to misread these terms as implying unnatural deficiencies rather than natural needs — like the gap in my stomach half a day after my last meal — even if holes are allowed as perhaps "even worth filling."

Service also promotes a sense of personal worth.

I believe that valuation of membership (or at least the perception of such by members) is fundamental to all "community"-like organizations. Maybe it's explicit ("Jesus loves you. This organization is supposed to be about promoting his teachings.") or maybe it's implicit (by serving the public, a valuation of all is implied).

You cannot support an organization that does not support you. And the more folks fear for their well-being (fearing death or instability), the stronger they'll want and seek the assurance of being cared for (by organization or by deity).

Why there isn't a world-wide "Mutual Care Society" but there are plenty of Objectivist clubs... Well, I trust there are details that somehow save my above ideas from invalidation...